Source:The New Democrat– as shocking as this may sound: Liberal vs Conservative, is not Left vs Right.
“Ok. Clearly we need to be using terms that mean the same things to both of us. It’s your thread so tell me what constitutes ‘The American Right’ and what constitutes ‘The American Left’. Once we have a common understanding of terminology we can resume the discussion.
I have been working on a post about this very topic, and this conversation is helping me immensely. Thanks.
First, I think there is a distinction that has to be made between the ‘ideological’ and the ‘political’. The ideological rests atop a higher tier than does the political, like a pyramid. The ideological tier houses philosophical and moral insights, which are produced through the academy and in think tanks. The political tier houses organizations dedicated to parties (I think that factions and parties are two different components of a society, and that factions represent a tier below the ideological and above the political).
The American Right is ideological. The GOP is political. (Factions would consist of actors like bureaucracies, trade unions, industrialists, banks, medical doctors, etc., but can also be used to describe intra-party, or coalitional, differences) The American Right is currently home to three broad ideologies: neo-conservatism (elite and moderate), libertarianism (elite and radical), and traditionalism (populist and radical). I emphasize ‘currently’ because neoconservatives and libertarians were at one point Leftist factions in US history, and could easily end up there again in the near future. In many post-colonial and post-socialist societies, for example, both of these ideologies are considered to be on the Left.
The American Left is currently home to three broad ideologies: fascism, communism, and racism. Just kidding! The three ideologies are, I would argue: New Deal liberalism (elite and moderate), technocratic liberalism (elite and radical), and progressivism (populist and radical).
New Deal liberals and neo-conservatives are only moderate because they are dominated by Baby Boomers and Baby Boomers dominate the population at the moment. Libertarians and the technocrats are broadly younger and more cerebral (hence the radicalism). Traditionalism and progressivism are ideologies for the vulgar mob, of course.
Ideology, using the pyramid analogy, trickles down from the top tier into the factional and political tiers. This is just how it works in societies governed by laws rather than by men. Libertarians have been dominating the ideological discussion for the last 30 years or so, and the technocrats have been playing defense, largely because they are politically aligned – wrongly, of course – with socialism’s failure, but also because technocrats are just libertarians who don’t have the chutzpah to become non-conformists.
Successful politicians from the Democrat Party have been trying to balance their New Deal liberalism with the insights of their technocratic betters, but have been calling themselves ‘progressives’ because of the populist narrative and the fact that they need the votes of the vulgar mob to be successful.
I already don’t like this because I don’t think the Left deserves to be considered ‘liberal’ at all, and there is also the shortcoming of being strictly American in scope. We have got to think in internationalist terms when we discuss power and liberty. NOL has tried to hash this whole issue out before, by the way, and numerous times.”
Source:Notes On Liberty
I agree with the commentator on this NOL piece somewhat. The Democratic Party and Republican Party are political parties. (You don’t say. Now tell me something that I don’t know.) I say that only because a political party is not the same thing as a political faction and movement.
Political parties are in the business only to win elections, to stay in power, and gain political power. Political factions are in the business to advance their movements. And generally they’ll be home to a political party, but in many cases they’ll only be a faction in it and generally not even a majority faction.
I don’t think there’s ever been an America right or an American left. They’re different political factions on the Right that have things in common with each other, but they have real differences as well. People who I you would call Classical Conservatives or Constitutional Conservatives, Conservative Libertarians, the William Buckley’s and Barry Goldwater’s of the world, have things in common with Libertarians (classical and anarcho) but they also have things in common with the Christian-Right, people who would be called Christian Nationalists today. But they have enough disagreements that keep them from ever becoming part of the same political movement.
On the so-called American Left, you have center-left Progressives, FDR, Harry Truman, LBJ Democrats. But then you have the Far-Left (or left-wing, if you prefer) people who would be called Democratic Socialists, Bernie Sanders movement, the Green Party, who share similar goals as let’s say Progressive Democrats, but want more government involvement, more spending, especially from the Federal level, more government programs, more taxes, to deal with the economic issues of today. Whereas the Progressive believes in progress and is a lot ideological. And tends to believe the best way to deal with economic issues and problems and help people who are struggling, is to empower people to help themselves, even if that means more government investment.
The modern Republican Party still has a large conservative wing. But it has a neoconservative wing in it as well, people who are a lot more hawkish as it relates to foreign policy, national security, and domestic security, but a lot more progressive than the Barry Goldwater’s of the world on economic policy.
The modern Democratic Party has a progressive wing in it. But it’s always had a socialist wing in it, Democratic Socialists from Henry Wallace in the 1930s and 40s, George McGovern in the 1960s and 70s, Dennis Kucinich in the 1990s and 2000s, Bernie Sanders today. But it’s always had a center-right, a classical liberal (not leftist) wing in it, from the Thomas Jefferson’s from when the party was founded, to John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, and Bill Clinton from the 1990s.
I think one of the problems with Americans politics is that a lot of Americans don’t understand it. And people get labeled with political labels that don’t reflect their political ideology accurately for good and bad. The so-called mainstream media is a big cause of this problem, because many times they don’t understand the political labels, factions, and ideologies that they talk and report about.
For example, if you believe Barack Obama is a foreigner who was born in another country with no real proof of his American citizenship, you get labeled as a Conservative. Even though no real Conservative would want to have anything to do with the Birthers. Because of course they believe the President was born in Hawaii.
If you believe in political correctness and that any critical speech that is directed at any minority group or minority in America is somehow not only a form of bigotry and hate, but that it should be censored and that government should step in shut down that type of speech and punish the people who express it, you get labeled as a Liberal. Even though the First Amendment was written by the Founding Liberals of America who gave us Freedom of Speech. And Freedom of Speech is and has always been the first Liberal Value.
If you look at the American political spectrum it goes from the Far-Left where you have Marxists who are Far-Left as people can get and then move a little right and you’ll find Democratic Socialists/Social Democrats. To Progressives who are still on the mainstream Left in America if you think of the New Deal and Great Society and move right from that. And you’ll find where I am the center-right where Liberals (or Classical Liberals, if you prefer) sit.
Then move to the Center-Right of the Republican Party and you’ll find the Conservatives. A bit further right than that and you’ll find the Libertarians. Go Far-Right and you’ll find the Christian-Right in America. Who want their religious beliefs and lifestyle enforces by government on the rest of the country.
The reason why Liberals are center-right and Conservatives are also center-right, because both sides as hard as this is to believe, both believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, the U.S. Constitution, equal rights, equal justice, individual freedom, property rights. But where they differ, is that Conservatives believe in conserving. Which is what being a Conservative is all about. Whereas Liberals believe in moving forward.
The reason why Liberals and Conservatives tend to look bad the with average American voter lets say who is not a political junky, or a hyper-partisan and tend to vote based on who they believe best represents them and not their party, is because the fringes on both sides who see bipartisanship and governing as surrender. And who promote big statist views on both sides get labeled either as Liberal, or Conservative based on what side of the political aisle they’re on.
According to the mainstream media, today’s Liberals are big government Socialists, or Statists who think people are stupid and need big government to manage both their economic and personal affairs for them. And Conservatives are people who want America to police and dominate the world and replace the U.S. Constitution with their version of the Bible. And throw all poor people off of public assistance, cut off all immigration and are all bigots.
The facts are Liberals are center-right. Everywhere outside of America, in the developed world, Liberals are seen as center-right, not center-left or far-left. People who believe in freedom and opportunity for all. Again individual freedom, plus social justice. Using government to expand freedom, not government dependence.
The real statists in America, are not Liberals or Conservative. But Socialists on the Left, who want a government big enough to manage people’s affairs for them. And Christian-Nationalists on the Right, who want to throw out the U.S, Constitution and our form of government and replace it with a fundamentalist, religious form of government. But they get called liberal or conservative by the media, as well people from these statist movements, who self-describe their politics as liberal or conservative. Hopefully this lessens the confusion about what liberal and conservative means in America.
You can also see this post at The FreeState, on Blogger.
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You can also see this post at The FreeState:https://thefreestateusa.blogspot.com/2015/09/notes-on-liberty-opinion-brandon.html on Blogger.